Exploring Alternative Dog Diets: Are They Right for Your Pet?

Exploring Alternative Dog Diets: Are They Right for Your Pet?


From the kibble aisle to the freeze-dried section, today’s pet stores offer a dizzying array of dog food choices. While traditional dry and canned varieties are still popular, many pet parents are exploring alternative diets. But are options like raw, fresh, or cold pressed dog food really healthier?

The Raw Diet Debate

The raw food diet for dogs aims to mimic the diet of their wolf ancestors by feeding whole, uncooked proteins and ingredients. Dedicated raw feeders tout benefits like:

  • more bioavailable nutrients compared to cooked foods.
  • easier digestion with fewer food intolerances.
  • potential for improved dental health and smaller stools.

Nonetheless, critics argue that raw diets come with safety risks of pathogens like salmonella and E. coli if not handled properly. There are also concerns about whether dogs truly require an all-raw diet.

For pet parents considering raw, close guidance from a veterinary nutritionist is highly recommended to ensure complete and balanced nutrition.

The Fresh Food Movement

On the opposite end of the spectrum from raw is the fresh pet food movement. These minimally processed, gently cooked, or frozen diets emphasize whole food ingredients like:

  • premium proteins like chicken, lamb, beef, and fish like salmon.
  • nutrient-dense fruits and veggies.
  • healthy fats like oils, seeds, and nuts.
  • limited high-fiber carb sources like lentils or sweet potatoes.

Rather than being highly rendered into dry kibble, fresh pet foods retain more of their inherent nutrition in a moist, appetizing texture dogs seem to love.

Freeze-Dried: Fresh, Just Add Water

Freeze-drying is another innovative way to serve up fresh whole food diets for dogs. The ingredients get frozen at extremely low temperatures to remove moisture, preserving their nutritional integrity.

To serve, you simply rehydrate the freeze-dried pieces or patties with water per the instructions. What you get is essentially a fresh, raw-inspired meal with the convenience of dry, shelf-stable packaging.

The Cold Pressed Difference

Then there are the unique cold pressed dog food options created through a special HPP (high pressure processing) method. Unlike heat processing that degrades nutrients, HPP uses intense cold-water pressure to eliminate potential pathogens.

The experts at Nextrition explain that this keeps more of the natural nutrition, flavors, and enzymes intact in those whole food ingredients. From chicken to vegetables to cold pressed lamb dog food and more, the nutrition stays amazingly fresh-tasting and bioavailable.

Many dog owners find their pups thrive on these preservative-free, all-natural cold pressed meals. And since their bodies can absorb those nutrients more fully, portion sizes can often be smaller while keeping dogs satisfied.

Not a One-Size-Fits-All Solution

So are alternative diets like raw food, fresh pet food, freeze-dried, or cold pressed right for your pup? As with most things in canine nutrition, it depends on several factors:

  • Your dog’s age, size, breed, and overall health.
  • Any specific dietary needs or sensitivities they may have.
  • What your vet or a pet nutritionist recommends.
  • Your budget and lifestyle/time constraints.
  • How your individual dog responds to different diets.

What works for one dog may not be ideal for another. Observe how your pet does on various foods in terms of things like:

  • energy levels and weight maintenance.
  • appetite, stool quality/quantity.
  • skin, coat, and body condition.
  • any gastrointestinal or allergy issues.

It may take some trial-and-error and adjusting proportions to find the sweet spot. But discovering a diet that aligns with your dog’s biology can pay dividends in their vitality and wellbeing.


The sustained rise in alternative diets is rooted in the desire to nurture our canine companions through high-quality, nutrition-focused foods.

While conventional kibble and canned fare definitely have their place, raw, fresh, freeze-dried, and cold pressed options tap into dogs’ evolutionary needs for whole, minimally processed ingredients.

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